Guidance counselors are trained mainly to help learners overcome their problems in the school situation. Their presence and operations, in essence, are supposed to cut across all the levels of education i.e. the primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions, since problems are no respecters of persons, the learners at these levels of education need the services of the guidance counselor to be able to actualize their dreams.
Relationship between Counseling and Teaching
Counseling and teaching are the two major professions that are in operation in the school systems. These two professions, however, are related because they are people-oriented. The main environment where the teachers and counselors operate is the school system and the learners are their target audience. Counselors and teachers are partners in progress.
The teacher is mainly concerned with the cognitive domain of the learners. All he does is to get his lesson plan ready for both the subject and the period to teach. His efforts at the end of the lesson may not be adequately rewarded after evaluating the lesson.
The learners might not have gained in the lesson due to the psychological problems they have. This is where the counselor has to come in; he is trained to positively affect the change in behavior of the client(s).
Furthermore, a psychologically healthy counselor who wants to be effective in the school system should be fully integrated into the daily life of the school as a full member of staff. He depends on the help given by his fellow teachers. The trained counselor offers support and added strength in a spirit of humility rather than eroding or competing with the pastoral care responsibilities of the teachers.
Characteristics of a Guidance counselors
A professional guidance counselor is a person who has both innate (inborn) and acquired skills for helping people who have challenges, to have deep insight into their abilities and capabilities vis-a-vis the nature and implications of their challenges, and thus be able to self-solve their challenges now and in the future. They (clients) are expected to voluntarily change their behavior.
Characteristics of a Guidance counselors
ABOVE-AVERAGE INTELLIGENCE: Our response to the situation around us is determined by our intelligence level. The intelligence level of an individual determines what he/she can learn, and the guidance counselor should possess enough knowledge about human beings and how they respond to various environmental situation and components.
All of these can be achieved by studying thoroughly the psychological principles guiding the human mind and behavior. Our level of intelligence should be allowed to interact with environmental stimuli. This can be done through continuous observation and study of the environment. It is from the knowledge acquired by the counselor that he can draw facts for guiding and counseling his client.
HUMANE AND SENSITIVE APPROACH TO HUMAN PROBLEMS: The guidance counselor must possess characteristics that should help him to handle his clients problems humanely and sensitively. For example, when listening to a pathetic story from his client, his facial dispositions and Overall. The compliment should be one that would be appropriate to the story being narrated by the client.
PATIENT APPROACH TO HUMAN PROBLEMS: A counselor should possess enough patience that will make him listen patiently to the client’s narration of his problems and problem Circumstances.
He should not give the impression that he is in a hurry, the moment he agrees to start the counseling with the client. The patience of the counselor should not interrupt the client’s narration of his personal experiences and circumstances. The appropriate body language e.g. posture, eye contact, etc. that is congruent with what the client is saying should be selected by the guidance counselor.
EMPATHIC APPROACH TO PEOPLE’S PROBLEMS: The psychological concept of empathy refers to one’s ability to perceive other people’s problems from the peoples’ point of view and thus be able to afford appropriate help i.e. putting yourselves in the shoes of your client and feeling the pinches.
This empathic approach to the client’s problem connotes readiness on the part of the guidance counselor to effect practical and practicable suggestions to the client’s problems.
ENDURANCE: A guidance counselor is expected to persevere in helping others to solve their problem without falling by the wayside either emotionally or ignorantly He is not expected to give up when the desired solution does not seem to be in view. At times, hours may be spent in a counseling session while a few minutes may be used for another session. The length of time spent depends on the type of problem or problems the client presents to the counselor, the appropriate use of various skills acquired or inborn, the experiences of the guidance counselor to mention just a few.
Roles and Functions of Guidance Counselor
A role and a function (responsibility) may be conceptualized as one of purpose (role) and process (function) or as one of the ends (role) and means (function). The notion of defining a given role involves describing the functions of the person occupying a given position.
Thus such functions or responsibilities set the individual apart from others. It was pointed out that a basic responsibility of any professional is to redirect people’s attitudes toward his or her role and to cultivate public understanding and support.
The task of the school counselor in Nigeria and elsewhere is to allow the student to define, explore, discover and adopt ways of living a more satisfying and resourceful life within the social, educational, and vocational groupings with which he or she identifies.
A school guidance counselor, therefore, is expected to perform the following roles and functions:
ORIENTATION: Students newly admitted need orientation by the school counselor on courses, regulations, programs, newsletter for school activities, school assembly, talks, Parents Teachers Association (PTA) meetings, and tours of the school. Counseling activities in their new schools are also given. The Counselor organizes orientation programs to help new students to adjust to their new school environment and its demands. e.g. students from primary to junior secondary and senior secondary schools.
DIAGNOSIS: The term diagnosis originated from the field of medicine where it is defined as the determination of the nature of diseases and their symptoms. However, in guidance counseling, it (diagnosis) helps the counselor to draw together with all the information about an individual and also provides a basis for decision-making in educational and vocational counseling.
Counselors who gather information from counselors to help them select a particular interest or personality test to provide them with needed information may be engaged in diagnosis. In diagnosis, the counselor needs such instruments as a psychological test techniques including non-test techniques e g. interviews, observations etc.
INFORMATION SERVICES: This is closely linked with diagnosis. Making a wise choice or taking a sound decision involves an awareness of various alternatives opened to an individual in a given situation. Information given enhances awareness and awareness removes ignorance.
He disseminates information to pupils and their parents, teachers, school administrators, and the general public concerning opportunities for further education, careers and career training opportunities, social health, and recreational or emotional aspects.
CONSULTATION AND REFERRAL: The school counselor provides consultation service to students, parents, school administrators, teachers, outside agencies like education ministries, and other helping professionals, regarding the developmental and adjustment needs of individual students.
A Counselor realizes his scope and limitations and refers cases he is not competent to handle to specialists such asbtrain clinical psychologists, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, etc.
PLACEMENT AND FOLLOW-UP SERVICE: The counselor assists in providing placement service for pupils by planning with teachers and administrators for the grouping and scheduling of pupils e.g. into streams depending on their areas of interest helping them to make the transition from one school level to another, or from one employment to another successfully.